To use or not to use… that is the question! We see “Antibacterial” soaps and products all over the market today. It sounds good, right? Kill Those Germs! Right? Or not?!!!
Although in theory these may seem wise, let me share some of the things I’ve learned about “antibacterial” soaps, as well as overuse of antibiotics.
It’s estimated that half of antibiotic use is unnecessary and contributes to the growth of “superbugs”. When antibiotics are used properly, they can be life-saving!! They are amazing tools to have in our medical repertoire. But… when antibiotics are misused, overused, and abused, then they actually help to create “superbugs”, or RESISTANT germs. The more that antibiotics are used, the less powerful they become because the germs begin to adapt and become resistant. This is becoming more well-known.
Just as overuse of antibiotics contributes to superbugs, antibacterial soaps begin to make the surviving germs STRONGER, more resistant. This is especially true when antibacterial soaps are not used LONG ENOUGH. The antibacterial chemicals require a certain amount of time to be effective. Especially with improper use (short duration of hand washing… think of our busy little ones, for instance!!), these products create more harm than good.
The most effective thing you can do in the battle against germs is wash your hands before eating and after using the bathroom. This, above anything else, will help keep you healthy. Here are some great hand-washing tips from Health Canada:
- When using soap and water, lather the soap for at last 15-20 seconds (about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday”.
- Remove hand/ arm jewelry for a most thorough clean
- Wash the front and back of your hands, as well as between your fingers and under your nails.
- Rinse your hands well under warm running water, using a rubbing motion. Friction is your friend in getting your hands clean!
- Wipe and dry your hands gently with a paper towel or a clean towel. Drying them vigorously can damage the skin.
- Turn off the tap using the paper towel so that you do not re-contaminate your hands. When using a public bathroom, use the same paper towel to open the door when you leave.
- If skin dryness is a problem, use a moisturizing lotion.Here are further steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.
- Wash your hands often, especially after coughing, sneezing or using tissues, before and after eating, before preparing food, after handling raw meat, after petting an animal, and after using the bathroom.
- When you cough or sneeze, use a tissue or raise your arm up to your face and aim for your sleeve. Do not sneeze into your hand. Throw away tissues as soon as you use them
- Keep the surface areas in your home and office free of germs by cleaning them. Doorknobs, light switches, telephones, and keyboards are especially important to keep clean.
- If you have children, teach them good hygiene and how to wash their hands properly. Young children should be supervised while washing their hands.
- If you use bar soap, keep it in a self-draining holder that can be cleaned thoroughly before a new bar is added.
- Don’t use a single damp cloth to wash a group of children’s hands.
- Don’t use a standing basin of water to rinse your hands.
- Don’t use a common hand towel.
- Don’t use sponges or non-disposable cleaning cloths unless you change them daily and launder them using detergent. Germs thrive on moist surfaces.
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